The cargo was precious, escorted by police – delivered to Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), in Thiruvananthapuram
While spacecrafts travel at 11 kilometres per second (escape velocity) and even faster when in space, components used for these spaceships and related research are transported at close to snail’s pace on earth. The difference in speed can be significantly high if components weigh several tons.
This is exactly what has happened in this recent case where transporting an aerospace autoclave from Maharashtra to Kerala has taken almost a year’s time. As of now, the shipment is yet a few days away from its destination.
Why it’s taking so long
The aerospace autoclave was manufactured in Nashik, Maharashtra and it was shipped to Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. That’s a distance of about 1700 km. For normal cargo, it would take max time of about a week to cover the distance. However, in this case, it has taken almost a year. One might doubt the capability of the truck, but that’s not the case. As a matter of fact, the cargo is being pulled by Volvo FM12 truck, one of the most powerful in the country.
The real reason why it’s taking so long is that the cargo weighs a massive 70 tons. The aerospace autoclave measures 7.5 meters in height and 6.65 meters in width. Its length should be approximately around 20-30 meters.
With its huge size and weight, the cargo is placed on a 74 wheel trolley. Manoeuvring it is no easy task, as it almost covers the entire width of the road. At places, trees had to be cut and power lines were disconnected or shifted to make way for this colossal cargo.
Transporting the cargo is so difficult that an entire team has been deployed to keep the truck moving forward. There are various tasks to be accomplished such as checking the route ahead, coordinating with police and traffic authorities, clearing obstructions on the way and taking care of the truck and the massive trolley. Due to these factors, the truck is able to travel only around 5 km per day on an average. This is exactly why the journey is taking so long.
Volvo FM series trucks
These powerful trucks are designed for carrying heavy cargo. The base-spec trucks have 10,800 cc engines whereas top-spec variants come with 12,800 cc engines. Max power output is in the range of 330 hp to 500 hp whereas max torque varies from 1600 Nm to 2500 Nm. Engine is mated to a 12-speed splitter and range gearbox with automated gear changing system. In terms of safety, Volvo FM series trucks are equipped with features such as smart cruise control, ABS, electronic stability program (ESP), and hill start aid.